A latest viral Rolling Stone article detailed the chaos behind the scenes of writer-director Sam Levinson’s forthcoming HBO collection The Idol, which, regardless of a teaser trailer dropping in July of final 12 months, has but to be given a launch as a result of full overhaul of the present’s preliminary course. The most important bombshell, nevertheless, was the outline of two disturbing scenes involving assault and sexual violence that had been scrapped from the present, bringing to the forefront bigger conversations about how mistreated and over-sexualized Levinson’s feminine characters are, notably in his greatest mission so far, HBO’s hit collection Euphoria.
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‘Euphoria’ Sexualizes Underage Ladies
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Euphoria is the preferred teen drama for the time being and have become the second-most watched HBO collection of all time behind solely Sport of Thrones. Following the lives of an eclectic group of California youngsters, there’s loads of drug use, violence, and above all, nudity. It is basically the Gen Z model of Skins with artsy make-up and visually stimulating cinematography. Primarily based on an Israeli collection of the identical identify, Euphoria was created by Levinson and served as a star car for Zendaya as she shed her Disney picture in favor of extra mature roles. Levinson wasn’t a very enormous identify on the time of Euphoria’s launch, so an excellent share of its preliminary viewership probably tuned in to see Zendaya show herself as a severe actress.
And that she did, turning into the youngest winner of the Primetime Emmy Award for Excellent Lead Actress in a Drama Sequence in 2020, successful the identical award once more in 2022. Levinson drew inspiration from his personal expertise with dependancy in creating Zendaya’s character Rue, so it is not stunning that hers can be the character written with probably the most care and depth. However except for Rue, virtually all of the younger ladies within the present’s foremost ensemble are over-sexualized or brutalized not directly.
All of Euphoria’s characters have troublesome lives, however the storylines established within the pilot episode alone embody many of the ladies being sexually exploited, whether or not it is by way of revenge porn, statutory rape, or slut-shaming. Clearly, these are very actual points that teenage ladies face immediately, however the present’s heavy-handed commentary and graphic depiction of characters who’re canonically underage (although the actors are all adults) is without doubt one of the present’s most obvious issues. The 4 characters who most fall sufferer to this are Maddy (Alexa Demie), Cassie (Sydney Sweeney), Kat (Barbie Ferreira), and Jules (Hunter Schafer).
Maddy Goes By way of Extreme Quantities of Abuse and Exploitation
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Maddy is the assured, common woman whose abusive, on-again off-again relationship with common soccer participant Nate (Jacob Elordi) is the primary focus of her story arc in Season 1. She’s topless the primary time we ever see her on display screen, she does not notably benefit from the tough intercourse she has with Nate, and her backstory reveals that she slept with a 40-year-old man when she was 14, a second the place the narration states that “she [Maddy] was the one in management.” Nate bodily and emotionally abuses her all through the primary season, in usually fairly brutal scenes which might be onerous to look at. Depictions of intimate companion violence could be essential when completed properly, however Maddy is much from the one character who experiences such blatant sexualization and violence.
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‘Euphoria’s Dismissal of Kat and Barbie Ferreira’s Departure
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Kat’s storyline is probably probably the most uncomfortable to consider for too lengthy. The one plus-sized character within the present, Kat begins Season 1 insecure that she’s the one one in all her mates who’s nonetheless a virgin, resulting in her having intercourse with a man at a home get together. Unbeknownst to her, he filmed their entire encounter and shared it on-line. She manages to dispel the rumors in school that it’s her within the video however quickly discovers it’s been uploaded to a porn web site. Initially horrified, after studying the feedback, she realizes she might generate profits being a cam woman. Whereas it is essential to inform these sorts of tales of plus-sized ladies coming into their very own and gaining self-confidence, having an underage woman discover empowerment by way of on-line intercourse work in all probability is not probably the most accountable approach to take action.
Although her journey to empowerment was problematic, her storyline in Season 1 was an attention-grabbing one to comply with. However this modified dramatically in Season 2 as Kat had far much less display screen time earlier than Barbie Ferreira revealed she wouldn’t be returning to the present for Season 3. Season 1 Kat was assured and snarky however confirmed a softer facet as she began to fall for an precise good man, Ethan (Austin Abrams), however she does an entire 180 in Season 2. She turns into egocentric and manipulative as she immediately loses all curiosity in Ethan and unceremoniously tries to dump him by telling him she has a terminal mind dysfunction. The information of Ferreira’s departure got here amongst claims that she and Levinson butted heads over the course of her character, even reportedly strolling off set a number of instances. Although Ferreira has not elaborated a lot on the matter, it is disappointing to see Levinson tarnish her character in Season 2 resulting in Ferreira’s departure.
Cassie Is the Most Oversexualised Character on ‘Euphoria’
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This is not the primary time we have heard tales of Euphoria forged members pushing again on Levinson’s writing, with Sydney Sweeney telling The Unbiased in 2022, “there are moments the place Cassie was speculated to be shirtless, and I’d inform Sam, ‘I don’t actually assume that’s crucial right here.’ He was like, ‘OK, we don’t want it’.” She made it clear that she was by no means uncomfortable on set filming intimate scenes, however this does converse to Cassie’s over-sexualization, specifically. Cassie is the character we see nude most frequently on Euphoria and an enormous a part of her character revolves round her sexual exercise and the slutshaming she is subjected to in school and on-line. Within the pilot, the primary actual introduction we get to her character is thru a scene the place a gaggle of teenage boys makes sexually degrading feedback about her whereas swiping by way of what’s basically a slide present of Cassie’s nude photographs and movies (all of that are proven on display screen).
Cassie craves validation from males and likes being submissive to whoever she’s in a relationship with, which makes her first sexual encounter along with her Season 1 boyfriend McKay (Algee Smith) a bit disturbing. Goaded by his mates, McKay virtually instantly initiates tough intercourse with Cassie and begins to choke her, with no warning or express consent. Conserving in thoughts that her character is underage, Cassie is shaken at first, however then tells him to not do it once more… “until she asks him to.” Cassie is by far probably the most objectified character on the present and has persistently horrible relationships with males, which escalates in Season 2 to her “relationship” with Nate, who she watched abuse Maddy for the whole lot of Season 1.
The Ups and Downs of Jules’s Characterization in ‘Euphoria’
Except for Rue, Euphoria largely revolves round Jules for almost all of the primary season, solely to be sidelined in Season 2 and bear a dramatic character change. Rue’s enigmatic greatest pal (and later girlfriend), Jules’ character provides a nuanced portrayal of a transgender teen, however this does not exclude her from the over-sexualization Levinson topics the aforementioned characters to. Viewers had been taken with Jules in Season 1, receiving reward from fellow trans ladies, and it’s refreshing to see a trans protagonist whose gender id will not be the main focus of their storyline. We additionally get to see what goes into Jules’ sophisticated journey along with her gender id, together with scenes that present her receiving hormone injections, but additionally her struggles with how her pursuit of femininity has been motivated by the male gaze, notably by males who fetishize trans femmes.
Jules’ character is at her most charming when Levinson lets actress Hunter Schafer take the reins in Euphoria’s 2021 particular episode “Half 2: Jules” or “Fuck Anybody Who’s Not a Sea Blob.” Co-written by Schafer, the episode takes place through the winter vacation between the primary and second seasons, as Jules speaks to a therapist after operating away from house within the Season 1 finale. It is a good looking character research that provides us a greater understanding of her childhood trauma and intense emotions for Rue, however she needed to undergo fairly a bit in Season 1 earlier than she might get there.
Regardless of her trans id not being the focus of her character, she nonetheless experiences transphobia from Nate and fetishization by Nate and his dad. Nate’s character is clearly the extension of his father Cal (Eric Dane) in that they each have lived their lives affected by sexual repression and have their eyes set on Jules. Her ache is used as a touchpoint between Nate and his dad to spotlight how comparable they’re, each hurting Jules within the course of. Jules has tough, painful intercourse with Cal in a motel room, and he movies the encounter with out her consent. Nate catfishes Jules into falling in love with him and sending him nudes solely to blackmail her with them later. So, regardless of all of the soul-searching and character improvement that befell in her particular episode, Jules’ ache is used as a plot gadget to additional develop two of the present’s most abhorrent characters.
Like Kat, Jules was additionally sidelined in Season 2 regardless of the success of her particular episode, together with some abrupt character adjustments. After Jules provides an eloquent clarification to her therapist about not being drawn to males and never desirous to middle her life round them anymore, Elliot (Dominic Fike) is launched and creates a twisted type of love triangle between the three of them. Rue and Jules’ relationship was already fragile, however her dishonest on Rue with Elliot completely disregards the place we left her character within the 2021 particular episode.
Sam Levinson Actually Appears to Love Struggling Ladies and Ladies!
Euphoria presents itself as progressive however makes use of graphic nudity and sexual violence enacted on its teenage woman characters for the sake of depicting the realities youngsters face immediately. It’s kind of extreme for there to be three completely different plot strains involving (and displaying on display screen) leaked nude photographs/movies of a teenage woman. Levinson’s filmography reveals that he has a propensity to jot down about ladies experiencing intense struggling, as a result of the Euphoria ladies undergo loads, however so do the ladies in his different two movies Assassination Nation and Malcolm and Marie. And because the latest Rolling Stone article revealed, he had much more struggling in retailer for Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) in his upcoming The Idol, however given the manufacturing’s volatility, it is onerous to foretell what’s going to even find yourself making the ultimate lower.